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    WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Diabetes

Foundation issued the following:
    People with diabetes could soon have greater access to services critical to their ability to mange their disease.
    An estimated 14 million people in the United States have diabetes; over 500,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.  Diabetes is a chronic disease with serious complications leading to blindness, kidney disease, amputations, heart disease, stroke and death.  It is the only disease that requires daily self management throughout an individual's life, making access to patient education critical to limiting and managing acute and long-term complications.
    H.R. 3806, introduced last night by Rep. Rod Chandler (R-Wash.), a member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, would expand Medicare coverage for outpatient education and ensure access to needed information by people over age 65 with diabetes.
    Under the bill, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would:
    -- Extend Medicare coverage of outpatient programs beyond hospital-based programs and rural health clinics.
    -- Require development of coding guidelines for outpatient diabetes education programs to facilitate consistent payment nationwide by third-party insurance.
    -- Adopt on a national basis quality standards for patient education that have been established by the National Diabetes Advisory Board, and provide Medicare reimbursement only for programs that meet the standards.
    Under the current law, Medicare may reimburse only for outpatient education services affiliated with a hospital or rural health clinic that are ordered by a physician.  Currently, education services offered in physicians' offices and similar primary care settings are not included and reimbursement is inconsistent and unpredictable from state to state.
    Diabetes is a major public health problem.  Health care and related costs for diabetes treatment run over $20 billion annually and account for nearly 5 percent of the total U.S. health care costs.
    "Patient education plays a crucial role in providing a long life and maintaining a good quality of life for diabetes patients," said Jay Skyler, M.D., president of the American Diabetes Association. "In light of spiraling health care costs, we must develop cost effective ways of preserving and ensuring our nation's health.  Each dollar spent on diabetes outpatient education saves $2 to $3 on hospitalization costs.  We applaud the introduction of this bill to be the first step in recognizing the importance of these services."
    The American Diabetes Association is the nation's leading voluntary health organization supporting diabetes research and education.  Founded in 1940 as a medical society, the American Diabetes Association now exists in more than 800 communities nationwide.
    -0-                     11/20/91
    /CONTACT:  Linda Broadus of the American Diabetes Association, 703-549-1500, ext. 291/ CO:  American Diabetes Foundation ST:  District of Columbia IN:  HEA SU:  LEG MP -- DC007 -- 5251 11/20/91 08:51 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 20, 1991

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